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Georgetown College adapts to promote safety during pandemic, holds some classes outdoors

Posted at 6:30 PM, Aug 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-17 18:30:11-04

GEORGETOWN, Ky. (LEX 18) — Georgetown College students and instructors have spent the past week adapting to a new school year amid a pandemic.

The college developed a task force that has implemented numerous measures that abide by the CDC's COVID-19 guidelines. One of those measures is to designate 13 spaces for outdoor classrooms and dining.

LEX 18 sat in on a class held outdoors Morning. It was taught by associate professor Jonathan Sands Wise.

"The safest thing we can do is to meet outside because when we meet outside there's obviously great ventilation," Sands Wise said. "We've got the whole outdoors here."

He noted that his students seemed more engaged outside, as compared to inside a classroom.

"I think students are actually more comfortable," Sand Wise said. "I get better conversation once we move outside."

Lawn chairs were provided for the students, all of which wore masks.

Georgetown College outside class.JPG
Jonathan Sands Wise teaches a class outside at Georgetown College.

Freshman Sophia Smith said having class outside makes her feel much more comfortable and less likely to get COVID-19. She said if she did get the virus without knowing it, she could be putting her entire family in danger.

"Everyone in my family is really high risk, so if I went home I could be an orphan," Smith said. "That's why it's really hard and scary."

Sands Wise, who also leads the scenario planning task force for COVID-19, said Georgetown College has made many other major adjustments.

For example, he said small, indoor classrooms were not available for use this semester.

He also said the task force worked with science faculty to improve the ventilation in large classrooms. For some, that means installing window fans that blow outdoors and create negative pressure.

For other buildings, Sands Wise said the college invested in entire ventilation systems.

Sands Wise said the campus also has enhanced decontamination in place.

Masks are required for all students, faculty, and staff when indoors or within 6 feet outdoors. Students must fill out health forms every day.

Students have also been grouped in residence halls according to their activities. For example, students on the same team or in the same major would live together in a cohort.

Lastly, some courses are following the hybrid model, with some classes in-person and others online.

All students are expected to follow all health protocols.

"Students who do not follow the health directives, who do not participate as they're supposed to in safe activities, or who refuse to quarantine or isolate will, in fact, go through a disciplinary process up to and including suspension or expulsion, if necessary," Sands Wise said. "We certainly hope we don't have to go there but we have to take this seriously and our students have to take this seriously for the health of the entire community."

Prior to returning to campus, everyone at the college had to test negative for the coronavirus. A spokesman said they have rapid testing available if someone comes in contact with another person who has the virus or if they are showing symptoms.

If a student tests positive, the college said it will perform contact tracing. There are also quarantine and isolation protocols in place.